What’s Trending in Aerospace – August 30, 2020

August 31st, 2020   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – August 30, 2020   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – August 30, 2020

Check out the Aug. 30 edition of What’s Trending in Aerospace, where editors and contributors for Avionics International bring you some of the latest headlines happening across the global aerospace industry.

Commercial Aviation

EASA Schedules flight tests for the Boeing 737 MAX

EASA will participate in test flights of the Boeing 737 MAX next week in Canada. (Boeing)

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will be participating in Boeing 737 MAX re-certification test flights in Canada Sept. 7, according to an Aug. 27 press release published on the civil aviation regulator’s website.

“The parties have now reached agreement that EASA’s flight tests will take place in Vancouver, Canada in the week commencing September 7, 2020,” the agency said. “Simulator tests will take place in the previous week (from Sept 1, 2020) in London Gatwick in the United Kingdom. The Joint Operations Evaluation Board (JOEB), will also take place in Gatwick, in the week beginning September 14, 2020.”

The agency noted that it has been working in close cooperating with the FAA on evaluating Boeing’s updates to the 737 MAX in preparation for re-entry into service.

Etihad Airways Boeing 787-10 to Test New Technologies for ecoDemonstrator Program

A modified Etihad Airways Boeing 787-10 will serve as the next ecoDemonstrator program aircraft.

An Etihad Airways 787-10 Dreamliner decked out with special equipment that can enhance safety and reduce CO2 emissions and noise has commenced flight testing this week for Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator program.

A series of flights will gather the most detailed information to date about aircraft acoustics from some 1,200 microphones attached to the outside of the 787 and positioned on the ground. The collaboration between NASA and Boeing will improve the agency’s aircraft noise prediction capabilities, advance ways for pilots to reduce noise and inform future quiet aircraft designs.

Check out an overview of the program published on Etihad’s YouTube page.

COVID-19 Forces Layoffs, Fleet Decisions at Finnair


Finnair plans to eliminate up to 1,000 jobs as part of new operational changes the Nordic carrier is making under the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

“Almost all of Finnair’s employees in Finland have been temporary laid off for a part of the spring and summer. In addition to the planned personnel reductions, Finnair will continue to apply temporary layoffs for practically all its personnel in Finland. The temporary layoffs can be either for fixed term or until further notice,” the airline said in an Aug. 25 press release.

On the same day as announcing the layoffs, Finnair also confirmed a sale and leaseback for one of its A350 aircraft.

”COVID-19 is the deepest crisis of aviation. The pandemic and the exceptionally tight travel restrictions in Finland have impacted flight demand and we will operate only a small part of our capacity compared to last year,” said Topi Manner, Finnair CEO. “A rapid turn for the better in the pandemic situation is unfortunately not in sight. Our revenue has decreased considerably, and that is why we simply must adjust our costs to our new size.”

Embedded Avionics

Advanced Magnet Lab Selected for Electric Aircraft Propulsion Program

Advanced Magnet Lab, Inc. was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) for the development of “electric propulsion motors, drives, and associated thermal management systems for commercial electric aircraft,” according to 

The ultimate goal of the program is to develop innovative lightweight and ultra-efficient electric motors, drives, and associated thermal management systems (collectively referred to as the all-electric powertrain) that will help enable net-zero carbon emissions in commercial aircraft. Single-aisle and twin-aisle aircraft that carry 100 or more passengers account for more than 90 percent of global emissions from commercial aircraft.

“We are extremely excited to be provided the opportunity to develop and exhibit our capabilities and technologies for the future of aviation,” stated Dr. Philippe Masson, CTO of AML.

AML is collaborating with the Center for Advanced Power Systems (CAPS) at Florida State University, which is developing the high-power density power converters which will drive and control AML’s motors.


Airbus and Boeing to issue joint paper on modernising air traffic management

In the coming weeks, Airbus and Boeing will release a collaborative report warning that air traffic management must be significantly modernized to manage the influx of new small aircraft and potentially passenger air taxis that will occupy future airspace.

According to FlightGlobal reporting, the two companies are writing the report to spur greater action by regulators. The Federal Aviation Administration’s NextGen program to upgrade ATM has faced delays.

The paper was distributed to ICAO in June of this year.

AirMap Launches Defense Unit to Increase Focus on DoD

The UAS service provider launched AirMap Defense Group (ADG) to increase its focus on providing UAS services to DoD, focusing on air traffic management services — the company’s main focus on the commercial side — as well as autonomous mission planning and execution.

AirMap received $3.3 million from the Pentagon earlier this summer, as part of COVID industry support efforts, to aid product development in these areas as well as post-mission analysis.

DDC Unveils New Ultra-Compact 1553 Magnetics Solutions Save Space & Optimize System Connectivity


Data Device Corporation (DDC) announces the release of two new ultra-compact 1553 magnetics components that provide size and weight savings, enabling minimized package design and optimized system connectivity.

The new ULP series 1553 isolation transformers are the world’s smallest single channel isolation devices, providing a 46 percent smaller size with 32 percent less weight than what was previously available. This achievement enables LRU box manufacturers to fit these isolation transformers near edge connectors for more efficient data transmission and package design.

The new DBM series data bus couplers utilize the world’s smallest coupler housing body, at 1.1” (27.9 mm) long by 0.31” (7.9 mm) high, enabling more compact packaging with greater flexibility options for integrating harness assemblies with LRU’s on the aircraft, providing optimized system connectivity.


FCC Grants OneWeb Market Access for 2,000-Satellite Constellation

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted OneWeb‘s market access to expand its Non-Geostationary Orbit (NGSO) satellite constellation to 2,000 satellites with a V-band payload in addition to its Ku- and Ka-band constellation.

OneWeb petitioned to add a V-band payload to the 720 satellite Ku- and Ka-band constellation approved by the FCC in 2017, proposing 1,280 additional V-band satellites operating at a nominal altitude of 8,500 km.

According to the FCC order, OneWeb must launch and operate 50% of the maximum number of proposed space stations, or 1,000 satellites, by Aug. 26, 2026. The remaining satellites must be launched and operated by Aug. 26, 2029. OneWeb currently has 74 satellites in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO).

“We are pleased to hear the FCC granted our V-Band application. The V-band is critical for next generation satellite broadband services. OneWeb looks forward to the future growth opportunities this approval will enable as we commercialize our spectrum and execute on our mission to bring low latency connectivity to communities, governments, businesses, and people in the U.S. and around the world,” a OneWeb spokesperson said Wednesday.

Check out the full article as published on Via Satellite, a sister publication to Avionics. 

Electric Aviation

BAE Systems Adds Power Sources into Aircraft Electrification Push

This week, BAE announced it intends to focus on designing new aircraft power sources to help replace combustion engines, as a further extension of the company’s move into aircraft electrification which includes energy management systems and flight controls. Two of the company’s current clients in this space are Jaunt Air Mobility, an air taxi developer, and Wright Electric, a startup aiming to bring to market a 186-seat electric jet.

“The systems have yet to leave the runway, but stand to make a difference when they do,” BAE said in a press release. “Each system will cut emissions and help operators save on fuel. The technology opens the door for a new way to commute and could take cars off the road. Reduced traffic would open roadways and further reduce emissions in the places where we live, work and visit.”

The post What’s Trending in Aerospace – August 30, 2020 appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Otto Aviation Considering Avionics, Connectivity Suppliers for Celera 500L

August 29th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Otto Aviation Considering Avionics, Connectivity Suppliers for Celera 500L   
Otto Aviation Considering Avionics, Connectivity Suppliers for Celera 500L

Otto Aviation plans a 2025 entry into service date for its Celera 500L under Part 23 type certification. (Otto Aviation)

Otto Aviation has proven the performance of its overly laminar flow over the course of 31 flights and is now in the process of considering avionics and connectivity suppliers for the Celera 5000L, CEO Bill Otto Jr. told Avionics International.

Celera 500L’s bullet-shaped design is the result of the use of extensive laminar flow over the fuselage, wings and tail surfaces, according to an Aug. 26 press release published by the Yorba Linda, California-based company. The aircraft has a maximum cruise speed of 450 miles per hour, a range of over 4,500 miles, with the goal of Part 23 type certification and entry into service by 2025.

Another unique aspect of Celera 500L’s design is the rear-mounted propeller engine, the twin six-cylinder all-aluminum diesel burning RED A03, which has already achieved EASA and FAA type certification, the company said.

(Otto Aviation)

“We are currently using the Garmin G-500 in the prototype,” Otto Jr. said in emailed remarks.

“Otto Aviation will be announcing avionics and other suppliers in the near future. Avionics on the aircraft will be comparable to other aircraft in its class including the PC-12, King Air and Citation Jets. The flight deck will be world class but is not expected to introduce new technology not found on other aircraft. Emergency auto-land and synthetic vision systems are being considered,” he added.

Otto Aviation, founded in 2008, describes itself as “redefining private aviation,” and outlines air taxi, air cargo, drone and military intelligence aircraft configurations and applications they have conceptualized for the 500L. However, the initial entry into service configuration is envisioned as a Part 23 business aircraft with six first class seats and an operating cost that could allow private charter operators the ability to charge fares comparable to commercial airlines, the company said.

There will also be cabin and cockpit connectivity technology featured no the aircraft, with suppliers soon to be announced.

Otto compares the cabin interior of the Celera 500L to a King Air 350. (Otto Aviation)

“Passengers will enjoy state of the art connectivity to Iridium-class satellite communication systems and Wi-Fi datalinks. Maintenance information data linking is also being considered. Each of these systems is currently available from suppliers, and we’ll announce supplier networks in future press releases,” Otto Jr. said.

Celera’s flight test campaign has also demonstrated a reduction in fuel consumption through direct measurement of drag and comparative fuel burn relative to a chase aircraft that was used. While not providing many other details, Otto Aviation also claims that the Celera has an hourly operating cost of $328 per hour versus $2,100 per hour for a “comparable jet.”

“Laminar flow is the key enabling technology to achieve the dramatic fuel consumption reductions demonstrated in our proof-of-concept vehicle,” Otto Jr. said. “Engineers have known since the dawn of flight that significant fuel savings are possible with laminar flow, and the combination of smooth composite construction coupled with favorable design choices minimizes aerodynamic drag.”

The post Otto Aviation Considering Avionics, Connectivity Suppliers for Celera 500L appeared first on Aviation Today.

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APG-83 AESA Radars to Improve F-16 Air-to-Air, Air-to-Ground Performance

August 29th, 2020   •   Comments Off on APG-83 AESA Radars to Improve F-16 Air-to-Air, Air-to-Ground Performance   
APG-83 AESA Radars to Improve F-16 Air-to-Air, Air-to-Ground Performance

The first-ever formation of F-16s equipped with Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars fly over Eglin Air Force Base on July 2nd (U.S. Air Force Photo)

The Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 scalable agile beam radar (SABR) for U.S. Air Force F-16 fighters by Lockheed Martin is to provide 5th generation radar features akin to those of the F-22 and F-35 for the legacy fighter, which first flew in 1974.

Such new, Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) features include beyond line of sight, longer range air-to-air and air-to-ground targeting of multiple targets, such as air defense radars and surface to air missiles, and all-weather, high-resolution, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) ground mapping for improved strike.

Last December, the Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a contract potentially worth $1 billion for 372 of the radars. The first jets receiving the radars are 72 Air National Guard (ANG) F-16s in response to a Joint Emergent Operational Need from U.S. Northern Command in 2017 for homeland defense to provide better detect and track capability against Russian cruise missiles.

In January, ANG F-16s at Joint Base Andrews, Md. received the first APG-83 radars.

The House Appropriations Committee’s version of the fiscal 2021 funding bill added $75 million for the procurement of the APG-83 radars for the ANG.

The AESA program for the F-16s may cost $1.8 billion overall, as the F-16s are also to receive upgradable software to extend F-16 service life for another 20 years and to ease F-16 operations in electronic warfare-contested environments.

On July 2, the Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force, 40th Flight Test Squadron and the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Eglin AFB, Fla. for the first time tested the APG-83 in a four ship formation to see how the radar would perform in combat, whether there was any radar interference, and whether the formation improved or degraded the individual aircraft’s radar signals.

The APG-83 radar, which allows detection out to 65 nautical miles, is one of 13 F-16 simultaneous upgrades for the F-16 fleet, which has not seen new hardware in years, according to pilots. Such other upgrades include a Lockheed Martin automatic ground-collision avoidance system(AGCAS), the Raytheon ALR-69A digital radar warning receiver, the Advanced Identification Friend or Foe Mode 5 NATO standard, and a communications suite upgrade for the Collins Aerospace ARC-210 satellite communications radios in F-16s.

While the F-16 AESA upgrade was envisioned to cost $1 million per aircraft, the decline in radar competitors has meant that the cost has ballooned per plane, according to the Teal Group.


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Vertical Aerospace Reveals ‘VA-1X’ Air Taxi, Targets 2024 for Commercial Operations

August 27th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Vertical Aerospace Reveals ‘VA-1X’ Air Taxi, Targets 2024 for Commercial Operations   
Vertical Aerospace Reveals ‘VA-1X’ Air Taxi, Targets 2024 for Commercial Operations

With its new VA-1X air taxi design, a significant departure from its previous ‘Seraph’ multicopter, Vertical Aerospace targets 2024 for commercial operations. (Vertical Aerospace)

Vertical Aerospace, Britain’s leading entrant in the race to commercialize electric vertical flight, unveiled the VA-1X, a vectored-thrust air taxi that represents a significant departure from the company’s previous multicopter design.

Specs of the VA-1X, according to Vertical:

  • Range: 100 miles
  • Cruise speed: 150 mph
  • Noise: 30x quieter than a helicopter
  • Capacity: 992 lbs payload, or four passengers plus luggage (and a pilot)

Images of the VA-1X released by Vertical Aerospace indicate a design highly efficient in cruise flight, with a 49-foot wingspan and V-shaped tail. The aircraft is powered by eight propulsors, four on each wing. Video footage released by Vertical show the rear four propellers as fixed, assisting with takeoff and landing, while the front four tilt forward to transition the aircraft into cruise flight.

Artist rendering of Vertical’s VA-1X in the skies above London. “You could travel from London to Brighton in approximately half an hour, compared to two hours driving, or an hour by train,” Vertical’s website states.

Vertical’s previous design, the Seraph, employed twelve overhead propellers in a multi-rotor fashion to lift a maximum of 550 lbs at speeds up to 50 mph. Shifting toward a far more efficient design with vectored thrust and numerous control surfaces, Vertical has chosen to undertake a more complicated project that will prove difficult to certify, but may have more transport applications than their previous aircraft design.

“Without even trying, the VA-1X could compete on ~10% of the UK’s weekly frequency for the 2017 schedule,” tweeted Darrell Swanson, who runs electric flight and urban air mobility advisory Swanson Aviation Co. “Lots of opportunities in the north providing much-needed Public Service Obligation flights. The real opportunity is where there are no scheduled services.”

Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate, also tweeted in support of the company’s new design, which in some ways resembles the “common reference models” released by the Uber in 2017 to help manufacturers meet their ecosystem’s design requirements. Vertical Aerospace has not yet announced an agreement with Uber or other ride-hailing apps, airlines or demand aggregation services, but plans find a partner to operate the aircraft, according to a company representative.

Vertical’s design of the VA-1X, powered by Dassault Systems’ cloud-based 3DEXPERIENCE development platform, also draws from Formula One racing. In October 2019, Vertical acquired MGI Technologies, a Formula One engineering and R&D firm, bringing in-house the ability to rapidly design and build accurate lightweight composite fuselages, conduct crash and fatigue analysis, aerodynamic testing and more.

Vertical recently expanded its previous supplier agreement with Honeywell to include flight controls and flight deck technologies for the VA-1X. Additional suppliers have been selected but not yet announced, a representative told Avionics International. No mention of autonomy was made in Vertical’s VA-1X rollout, and development and manufacturing of the aircraft will take place in the United Kingdom.

Visuals of the flight controls and pilot interface for the VA-1X. (Vertical Aerospace)

“With the launch of the VA-1X, we’re proud to be taking eVTOL one step closer to mass-market adoption, and supporting the next era of aviation,” Michael Cervenka, CEO of Vertical Aerospace said on launch of the design. “At Vertical Aerospace we believe that people should be able to quickly and affordably get from A to B without sacrificing the planet – with the VA-1X, this vision will start to be realized in under five years.”

With no physical prototype yet constructed, it will be a challenge for Vertical to gain EASA type certification and production approval for the VA-1X, a complex design with many moving parts, and begin commercial operations by 2024.

Conscious of the timeline and confident in their design, Vertical plans to forgo sub-scale prototyping and move straight to a full-scale build of the aircraft — with testing of individual systems, such as propellers. Vertical also hired Dean Moore, previously Boeing’s lead flight test engineer, to direct the aircraft’s flight test campaign out of Bristol.

“Multicopters are great, but they are not efficient for longer flights which is where we see the benefit of being in this market,” a representative for Vertical Aerospace told Avionics via email, explaining the shift in design philosophy from the Seraph to the VA-1X.

Chinese developer EHang, known for two-passenger ‘216’ multicopter design with a limited range of 21 miles, also hinted at development of a longer-range aircraft design on its Aug. 25 Q2 earnings call, which — if fully electric — is likely to be achieved by a more efficient, wing-borne lift-plus-cruise or vectored-thrust concept.

“We expect to roll out more new products, including the one with a flight range of over 100 kilometers, opening up more market opportunities,” said Huazhi Hu, founder and CEO of EHang. “We believe 200 percent revenue growth is achievable as our continuous efforts in innovation lead to stronger development.”

The post Vertical Aerospace Reveals ‘VA-1X’ Air Taxi, Targets 2024 for Commercial Operations appeared first on Aviation Today.

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LuxStream Connectivity is Coming to Four Gulfstream Jets Under New STC

August 26th, 2020   •   Comments Off on LuxStream Connectivity is Coming to Four Gulfstream Jets Under New STC   
LuxStream Connectivity is Coming to Four Gulfstream Jets Under New STC

A new STC will bring LuxStream connectivity to four Gulfstream aircraft types by the end of the year. (Collins Aerospace)

Federal Aviation Administration certification of the LuxStream connectivity service is expected prior to the end of 2020 on four different Gulfstream aircraft types under a new Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) that is in process by Van Nuys, California-based maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider Western Jet Aviation.

LuxStream is the new business aviation in-flight connectivity (IFC) service launched by the ARINCDirect portfolio services division of Collins Aerospace, a Raytheon Technologies company. Western Jet Aviation is anticipating STCs for the technology on Gulfstream’s G450 next month, while approvals for the G350, GV and G550 will come shortly after.

The STC will allow the installation of the KuSAT-2000 satellite communications terminal to enable LuxStream on the Gulfstream jets. A representative for Collins Aerospace told Avionics International that the KuSat-2000 terminal is comprised of four line replaceable units (LRUs), including a Gimbal Antenna Unit (GAU), Antenna Control and Modem Unit (ACMU), Block Up Converter (BUC) and Block Down Converter.

Software preloaded into the terminal will be updated continuously over its lifecycle of operation, according to the representative.

Kaiser Air, an Oakland, California-based charter operator, is already flying the first GIV LuxStream-equipped jet.

A recent test flight completed by Astronics Corp. on its Ku-band tail-mounted antenna technology confirmed the for the  KuSAT-2000’s ability to demonstrate previously proposed download speeds for the new LuxStream business jet connectivity service.

The KuSat2000 terminal upgrade for Gulfstream jets is enabled by the four LRUs pictured here. (Collins Aerospace)

During the test flight, Astronics recorded download speeds of up to 25 Mbps in the United States and 15 Mbps globally, using Collins’ SATCOM system to access Ku-band satellites operated by SES. Astronics’ team transferred 12 gigabytes of data during the flight, testing up to seven devices that were simultaneously streaming HD video as well as voice, video calls and other communications platforms.

Collins is also using a unique approach to the service plans business jet operators can use to operate LuxStream in-flight.

“Unlike other services, customers can select a fixed monthly plan or pay by MB used. We understand some customers want flexibility while others want predictability, thus why we are offering both plans without sacrificing speed. The speed is the same, regardless of the pricing model selected,” the representative for Collins Aerospace said.

There are also LuxStream STCs being developed for Bombardier’s Global 5000/6000 and XRS jets as well.

“When it comes to Cabin Connectivity, we believe the KuSAT-2000 system combined with the LuxStream service meets this mark,” said said Jim Hansen, CEO of Western Jet Aviation. “The fast speeds and great customer service will be a great fit for our Gulfstream customer base.”

The post LuxStream Connectivity is Coming to Four Gulfstream Jets Under New STC appeared first on Aviation Today.

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U.S. Air Force Leaders Witness Manned eVTOL Demonstration by LIFT Aircraft’s HEXA

August 26th, 2020   •   Comments Off on U.S. Air Force Leaders Witness Manned eVTOL Demonstration by LIFT Aircraft’s HEXA   
U.S. Air Force Leaders Witness Manned eVTOL Demonstration by LIFT Aircraft’s HEXA

U.S. Air Force leadership watched a manned demonstration of LIFT Aircraft’s single-seat HEXA, one of fifteen companies contracted through Agility Prime’s Air Race to Certification. (Kenneth Swartz / eVTOL.news)

Leadership from the U.S. Air Force observed a manned demonstration of an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft last week near Austin, Texas, as first reported by eVTOL.news.

Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett and Chief of Staff Charles Q. Brown, Jr. were on hand to witness LIFT Aircraft’s HEXA, a single-seat eVTOL aircraft powered by 18 overhead electric motors and propellers, fly for four minutes in a demonstration that included hovers, turns and forward flight within 40 feet of the ground.

The demonstration was part of a leadership visit to AFWERX, the Air Force’s innovation center and home to its Agility Prime initiative. LIFT Aircraft is one of fifteen companies the service has contracted with under Agility Prime, encompassing three categories: 1-2 seats, 3-8 seats, and unmanned cargo aircraft with greater than 1,320 lbs gross takeoff weight.

Development of HEXA was first announced publicly in December 2018. LIFT intends to certify the aircraft under the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 103 as an ultralight and allow paying members of the public — after less than an hour of training and no pilot’s license — to fly it recreationally in scenic locations.

“We believe the market for experiential entertainment flying of electric multi rotors will be huge,” Matt Chasen, founder and CEO of LIFT Aircraft told Avionics International. “We will soon launch the first consumer flying experience – where anyone can fly with < 1 hour of training, no pilots license required – for less than $250 per flight.”

LIFT has conducted close to 600 test flights to date with a total of between 10-15 hours flight time, according to Chasen, across three pre-production aircraft and four pilots. Between one-third and half of those tests were with a pilot onboard.

“We are developing a touch screen interface – actually an iPad app running on a 12.9” iPad Pro,” Chasen said. “The touch screen app is not required for flight and so treated as a supplemental device. Other user interface elements are the joystick and also an audio/communications system that will eventually allow for some voice control features.”

Unlike most other eVTOL startups attempting to provide effective transportation services, Chasen is focused on recreational use. LIFT plans to offer flights over scenic, un-congested areas to start, such as the San Francisco Bay, Elliot Bay in Seattle, the Santa Monica waterfront, and Dubai’s Marina waterfront. Beginning early next year, LIFT plans to spend 12-18 months touring the United States, offering flights to more than 15,000 people on its waitlist and other members of the paying public.

“We believe the market for eVTOL will develop first with Ultralights under Part 103, then with public use including military, emergency medical, law enforcement and coast guard rescue, etc.,” Chasen said. “Only after these aircraft get certified and are proven at the levels of safety required for passenger transportation — 10^9 — will they be used for transportation.”

Chasen expects operating costs for each flight down will fall below $20 within five to ten years, which would make each flight “1/10th to 1/50th the cost of traditional small helicopter flights.”

LIFT has received a total of $2.6 million in funding and grants through AFWERX, with much of that funding tied to future development milestones, according to Chasen. Five production HEXA aircraft are now under development, two of which are to be allocated to Air Force flight test and evaluation activities “with the aim of evaluating our aircraft against the airworthiness certification requirements the DOD has for their aircraft,” Chasen said, according to eVTOL.news,

In addition to understanding the technology and its performance, the Air Force is attempting to identify applications for the HEXA within the service.

“We now have over fifteen of the leading aircraft manufacturers in the world applying to partner with Agility Prime, with many of them already on contract,” said Col. Nathan Diller, AFWERX director and Agility Prime lead. “This flight today marks the first of many demonstrations and near-term flight tests designed to reduce the technical risk and prepare for Agility Prime fielding in 2023.”

The post U.S. Air Force Leaders Witness Manned eVTOL Demonstration by LIFT Aircraft’s HEXA appeared first on Aviation Today.

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EHang Joins ICAO’s Ambular Project As First Hardware Partner

August 25th, 2020   •   Comments Off on EHang Joins ICAO’s Ambular Project As First Hardware Partner   
EHang Joins ICAO’s Ambular Project As First Hardware Partner

EHang joined ICAO’s Ambular project, which is exploring eVTOL use for medical transport, as its first hardware supplier. (Ambular)

Chinese autonomous aerial vehicle-maker EHang has joined Ambular, a volunteer project run by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to explore applications of electric vertical flight for emergency medical response operations.

Launched in 2018, Ambular seeks to develop a prototype aircraft that will be open-sourced, rather than built and sold as a commercial product, as well as to demonstrate that electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft can be affordably and responsibly used for emergency medical response purposes. As the project’s first hardware partner, EHang will provide rotors and motors, and potentially other necessary hardware, to aid in the design of an aircraft intended to be provided open-source to whomever wants to use it.

Ambular is currently in the early phase of its second design cycle, according to Yuri Fattah, lead guide for the team at ICAO. One academic partner, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, is using computational fluid dynamics and a wind tunnel to contribute on the design’s aerodynamics, while Concordia University’s Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science is working to include a digital twin of the aircraft in its unmanned traffic management simulator.

Ambular’s three expected design cycles. (Ambular)

“Based on the results of those analyses, we will start finalizing the next iteration of the Ambular, which will then be the basis for a ¼-scale prototype that we hope to have ready in the next 4 to 5 years,” Fattah told Avionics International. “At that time, we will have a clearer understanding of what other hardware will be provided to the project and by whom.”

Fattah added that EHang is currently the project’s only hardware contributor, and it has not yet been decided whether Ambular will move on to a full-scale functioning prototype after sub-scale testing. Other partners include Imaginactive, a engineering concept firm owned by Charles Bombardier, and the Second Research Institute of the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

“The aim is to demonstrate that the use case — that of an eVTOL ambulance — can be realized in a manner that is affordable and socially responsible (including with respect to the environment),” Fattah said. “That might be a bit of a moonshot but we hope that many issues, both technical and otherwise, will be solved through the collective work on this singular problem. And we definitely believe that we will also have a working prototype that demonstrates that we can reach our goal.”

A presentation on Ambular’s progress given during last month’s virtual Farnborough International Airshow proposed using four sets of rotors placed around a central cockpit to transport one patient and one paramedic. The next phase of design anticipates accommodating two paramedics and one patient.

The presentation featured an eVTOL aircraft much like EHang’s two-seat 216 flying to the scene of an accident, in the middle of a city street, and taking off again to transport the patient to a hospital.

“AI sorts location, assigns vehicle and allocates nearest paramedic. AI also handles the commute which is controlled by a pilot remotely in a command center. The paramedic takes over command if an issue arises,” the presentation stated.

Unlike some other “EMS eVTOL” projects, Ambular intends to transport patients to medical facilities as well as move paramedics to the scene of the accident. (Ambular)

Ambular is not the only project touting the potential of eVTOLs to safe critical minutes in emergency response situations. Jump Aero, led by former Terrafugia leader Carl Dietrich, is in the initial stages of designing a commercial eVTOL specifically for emergency medical use. Volocopter is nearing completion of an 18-month study in partnership with the ADAC Air Rescue Foundation to explore medical applications of its VoloCity aircraft.

However, both Jump Aero and Volocopter intend their aircraft solely to bring paramedics to the scene of an accident: not also for transporting a patient to a medical facility, as Ambular proposes.

EHang has previously demonstrated its aircraft’s applicability to medical transport by moving supplies a distance of four kilometers in the city of Hezou, along with a proposal to use the 216 for aerial firefighting. The company has also obtained a special flight operations certification from Transport Canada, announced a production facility in Guangdong, and partnered with a number of small European cities to implement urban air mobility.

In January, EHang published a white paper describing its approach to commercializing urban air mobility, with each two-passenger autonomous vehicle capable of generating $352,174 in annual revenue at a profit margin of 39 percent.

However, those figures assume a load factor above 90 percent and 6,000 hours annual utilization, meaning the aircraft is expected to be flying passengers an average of 20 hours per day — despite a stated charge rate of up to 120 minutes. EHang has not yet responded to inquiries from Avionics International regarding these figures and its business case.

The post EHang Joins ICAO’s Ambular Project As First Hardware Partner appeared first on Aviation Today.

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What’s Trending in Aerospace – August 23, 2020

August 24th, 2020   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – August 23, 2020   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – August 23, 2020

Check out the Aug. 23 edition of What’s Trending in Aerospace, where editors and contributors for Avionics International bring you some of the latest headlines happening across the global aerospace industry.

Commercial Aviation

PWI Testing Biotek Shield Potential for In-Flight Virus Neutralization

PWI is testing the use of a new “Biotek Shield” device that the FAA repair station believes could neutralize viruses in-flight from within an aircraft’s air conditioning system. (PWI)

PWI, a Wichita, Kansas-based FAA aircraft repair station, is testing the use of a new device called the “Biotek Shield,” designed to neutralize pathogens and viruses from within an aircraft’s air conditioning system.

Through a partnership with its sister company, Aero Biotek Inc., PWI is working with a lab to test Biotek Shield’s ability to use UVC lighting to neutralize the COVID-19 coronavirus. When installed within the air conditioning duct it is designed do operate “silently and invisibly throughout the flight,” PWI said in a Aug. 18 press release.

When the aircraft is on the ground, the device will draw power from the aircraft’s auxiliary power unit, when the aircraft is in the air-the device will be powered by the plane’s engines.

“There are only a handful of BSL 3 or “Biological Safety – Level 3” labs which are authorized to test on live viruses like Covid 19,” said Robi Lorik, President and CEO of PWI. “These viruses can be very dangerous, so locating a lab certified to test with Covid 19 was a challenge in itself.”

“Since viruses are not alive, nothing will “kill” a virus. But a virus can be rendered incapable of reproducing or infecting a host,” he added.

The company is targeting certification on the Boeing 737 as its first entry into commercial service.

United Airlines is Using ‘AUVCo Blades’ to Clean Flight Decks

United Airlines is now using UVC lighting to disinfect the interiors of its flight decks.

United Airlines is using Ultraviolet C (UVC) lighting technology to disinfect the flight deck interiors on most aircraft at its hub airports. According to an Aug. 6 press release, the airline is using “AUVCo blades” supplied by the American Ultraviolet company to kill viruses that may reside on” sensitive switches and touch screen displays within the flight deck.”

The technology was selected under advice obtained through their “United CleanPlus” partnership with Cleveland Clinic, which recommended the use of UVC in United’s flight decks.

“United implementing UVC lighting in its flight decks is an important tactic because we know that the virus can be killed by ultraviolet light,” said Dr. James Merlino, Chief Clinical Transformation Officer at Cleveland Clinic.

The airline is also using electrostatic spraying to disinfect its aircraft cabins through the same partnership with Cleveland Clinic.

“Flight decks have many working parts, screens and components that are challenging to clean with traditional hand wipes and liquids, especially for someone who isn’t a pilot. The UVC lighting gives us a faster, more effective disinfection of one of the most important areas of the aircraft,” said Bryan Quigley, United’s senior vice president of flight operations.


Save the Date: Avionics International Co-Hosts Connected Aircraft Cabin Chats Web Series Sept. 22-24, 2020

Mark your calendar for September 22-24, where the Global Connected Aircraft team will be launch its second session of Cabin Chats.

Due to the impact on travel restrictions and social distancing requirements brought on by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the annual Global Connected Aircraft Summit – co-hosted by Avionics and Via Satellite – has been postponed until June 2021.

In place of the live event, we have launched the Global Connected Aircraft Cabin Chats virtual series. The first installment of the series occurred in June, and we’re planning a second installment next month Sept. 22-24, 2020.

Check out a snapshot of the agenda below, with speakers soon to be confirmed.

Each day will feature short 1-hour interactive presentations, networking, virtual panels and Q&A sessions with industry influencers and leaders across the connected aircraft value system. Check out more information about Cabin Chats and register here.


Northrop Grumman Demonstrates Firebird In Unmanned Operations

Northrop Grumman’s Firebird aircraft taxis ahead of night demonstration flight. (Northrop Grumman)

Northrop Grumman recently demonstrated its optionally-piloted Firebird multi-mission aircraft in series of unmanned evaluations that included one flight lasting longer than a day and operations with a ground-based sense and avoid radar that eliminated the need for a manned chase aircraft to observe flights.

During seven flights in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) mode at Grand Sky, N.D., the Firebird accumulated 70 hours of flight time, including day and night operations, Jon Haun, director of the Firebird product line and strategy for Northrop Grumman, said on Wednesday during an update for media held virtually via Zoom. The evaluations included 36 hours of flight-time during a 38- hour stretch in which the first flight lasted 25.6 hours, he said.

Check out the full story first published in Defense Daily.

Near Earth Autonomy and NAVAIR to Develop Autonomy Package for K-MAX

Photo: Kaman Aerospace

Pittsburgh, Pa.-based autonomy systems integrator Near Earth Autonomy is partnering with Kaman Aerospace and Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) to develop an autonomy system specifically for the K-MAX helicopter, but with broad applicability to large VTOL aircraft.

Near Earth previously worked with the Office of Naval Research in 2014 on a smaller sensor and software autonomy package for the Autonomous Aerial Cargo/Utility System (AACUS) project, which has since been implemented on small and medium-sized VTOL aircraft. The company also continued to develop obstacle avoidance technology, working primarily with smaller drones.

The K-MAX helicopters, capable of carrying 6,000 lbs, flew numerous unmanned missions during 33 months of deployment in Afghanistan, moving cargo between forward operating bases and remote outposts, but relied on remote pilots to do so.

Through this partnership with Near Earth, the Navy hopes to validate a more intelligent aircraft and reduce the amount of “manned” in the “unmanned.”

Near Earth says its technology allows the aircraft to autonomously take off, fly, and land safely, with or without GPS. The company’s goal, however, extends beyond the K-MAX.

Unmanned Traffic Management

Australian ANSP Releases RFI for FIMS Prototypes

Australian air navigation services provider, Airservices, released a request for information regarding the development of a Flight Information Management System (FIMS) prototype to be build with industry partners. A FIMS is a gateway connecting various unmanned traffic management providers with each other and the ANSP’s air traffic management system.

“This RFI is seeking to identify the FIMS requirements and functionality necessary to ensure emerging airspace users, such as drones and proposed air taxis, are safely integrated into Australia’s overall air traffic management system with other piloted aircraft,” said Michelle Bennetts, Airservices’ executive general manager for customer service enhancement. Through this RFI, we will better understand industry capability to deliver a future operational FIMS solution and more broadly UTM for Australia.”

Airservices is requesting information from industry on the functional requirements of a FIMS to inform an approach to market to build a number of FIMS prototypes with the intention of selecting a preferred partner to deliver the operational FIMS solution for Australia.

India Testing BVLOS Flights

India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has approved a series of BVLOS flight trials, to be conducted by operator AutoMicroUAS with support from UTM provider Unifly.

Over the next few months, the group will conduct 100 hours worth of BVLOS flights in multiple remote locations, beyond normal ground control coverage, to gather data that will inform future rulemaking on BVLOS drone flights in India. The main areas of application of interest to Indian regulators are agricultural business, healthcare and law enforcement.

The post What’s Trending in Aerospace – August 23, 2020 appeared first on Aviation Today.

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In Effort to Bolster U.S. Small Drone Industry, Pentagon Clears Five Models for Government Use

August 22nd, 2020   •   Comments Off on In Effort to Bolster U.S. Small Drone Industry, Pentagon Clears Five Models for Government Use   
In Effort to Bolster U.S. Small Drone Industry, Pentagon Clears Five Models for Government Use

A version of Skydio’s X2, pictured, and four other U.S.-made drones were approved by the Defense Innovation Unit as trusted purchases for government customers. (Skydio)

With Congress poised to ban all U.S. government purchasing of Chinese drones and components, the Department of Defense is leveraging its small UAS prototyping efforts with industry to offer domestically manufactured options to military and federal customers.

The new effort by the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), called Blue sUAS, builds on the Army’s ongoing Short-Range Reconnaissance (SRR) development program, which selected six U.S. and allied companies to develop an inexpensive VTOL drone weighing less than 5 pounds that can be used for situational awareness.

Five of those companies — Altavian, Parrot, Teal Drones, Skydio, and Vantage Robotics — have now been selected by Blue sUAS as trusted options to be available for purchase on the GSA schedule by September.

“Recognizing the demand signal across the federal government for trusted and secure sUAS, DIU took the lead in developing systems that are broadly applicable to an array of users and mission sets,” DIU said in a press release. “Coined Blue sUAS, this spinoff effort builds upon the Army’s initial success and offers sUAS that mirror the air vehicle and software architecture of SRR, but provides alternative ground controller and radio configurations to accommodate a variety of users across the federal government.”

For over a decade, U.S. industry has struggled to find success in the small UAS industry, where Chinese DJI controls between 70 to 80 percent of the market. Amid data security concerns and broader decoupling actions between the two nations, both the House and Senate versions of this year’s National Defense Authorization Act include an amendment to ban the use of federal funds to purchase DJI and other drones with Chinese systems or components.

The billion-dollar opportunity created by that legislation, coupled with Blue sUAS, may be the drone industry’s best shot at gaining a market foothold — and the Pentagon’s best shot at securing a trusted supplier ecosystem.

“Blue sUAS represents a tremendous first step toward building a robust and trusted UAS domestic industrial base that ensures sustained delivery of highly-capable, secure UAS to the warfighters that depend on it,” said Michael Kratsios, acting under secretary of defense for research and engineering.

One key player not listed on the release is Auterion, a Switzerland and California-based software company developing and maintaining open-source software tools for drones, including the widely-used PX4 autopilot. From the start of the SRR solicitation, Auterion was contracted by DIUx to build software for all participants’ ground control architecture, ensure interoperability, and integrate capabilities such as the U.S. Air Force’s Android Team Awareness Kit (ATAK).

Dave Sharpin, CEO of Auterion Government Solutions, explained that taking the burden of software development off of each drone company improves commonality for DoD and lowers overall development prices for companies like those participating in Blue sUAS — helping smaller startups compete with the likes of DJI, which has thousands of software engineers at its disposal.

“We need an alternative to Chinese-made small drones and Blue sUAS is a first step in achieving that objective.” said Mike Brown, director of DIU.  “Working across DOD and the U.S. government aggregates the business opportunity for these five vendors and enhances the long-term viability of this capability for the U.S. and our allies.”

The post In Effort to Bolster U.S. Small Drone Industry, Pentagon Clears Five Models for Government Use appeared first on Aviation Today.

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PODCAST: Allegiant Talks Aircraft Network Security and Predictive Maintenance

August 22nd, 2020   •   Comments Off on PODCAST: Allegiant Talks Aircraft Network Security and Predictive Maintenance   
PODCAST: Allegiant Talks Aircraft Network Security and Predictive Maintenance

This episode of the podcast features a presentation given by Ankit Nanda, managing director of engineering, Allegiant, at the first installment of the Global Connected Aircraft Cabin Chats web series in June.

On this episode of the Connected Aircraft Podcast, we feature a pre-recorded presentation on aircraft network security and predictive maintenance at Las Vegas-based low cost airline Allegiant.

The presentation was given by their managing director of engineering, Ankit Nanda during the first installment of the Global Connected Aircraft Cabin Chats that took place in June. This is our first time releasing the presentation, where Nanda provides  in-depth perspective on how the airline has adopted the Airbus Skywise predictive maintenance technology. Listeners will also gain an understanding of their efforts to establish and associated aircraft network security program.

Have suggestions or topics we should focus on in the next episode? Email the host, Woodrow Bellamy at wbellamy@accessintel.com, or drop him a line on Twitter @WbellamyIIIAC.

Listen to this episode below, or check it out on iTunes or Google Play If you like the show, subscribe on your favorite podcast app to get new episodes as soon as they’re released.

The post PODCAST: Allegiant Talks Aircraft Network Security and Predictive Maintenance appeared first on Aviation Today.

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